Arthritis Cure

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Fast pace of new research

Research over the past fifty years has brought about major advances in finding causes as well as better ways to treat arthritis. The pace of improvements has quickened in recent years. New findings have helped reduce deaths, correct deformities, restore movement, and reduce pain.

More than 200 years ago, a gout attack kept the English statesman William Pitt from stopping the passage of a tax on tea by Parliament. The tax led to the Boston Tea Party and the independence of the American colonies. In the past 40 years, researchers have found ways to control the arthritis for 1 last update 2020/05/28 caused by gout so that no one today need miss an important day from work.More than 200 years ago, a gout attack kept the English statesman William Pitt from stopping the passage of a tax on tea by Parliament. The tax led to the Boston Tea Party and the independence of the American colonies. In the past 40 years, researchers have found ways to control the arthritis caused by gout so that no one today need miss an important day from work.

More than 50 years ago, crutches or canes were the only way to get around once rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis destroyed a hip or knee joint. In the past 30 years, research has created artificial joints--spare parts for people with arthritis. Replacing worn-out joints with artificial ones has given back freedom of movement to thousands of people who thought they had lost it forever.

More than 10 years ago, a mysterious new form of arthritis began disabling children and adults along the Connecticut shoreline. In seven years researchers identified the cause of Lyme disease as an infection spread by ticks and found an effective treatment with antibiotics.

Today, progress is so fast in some areas of arthritis research that the media often report a new finding even before the medical journal with the study reaches your doctor''s granulomatosis & polyarteritis Cure for most people 1972-76 Link between specific HLA genes and ankylosing spondylitis rheumatoid arthritis Important clues to the causes these diseases 1977 Discovery of Lyme Disease Model for infectious cause for certain types of arthritis 1978 Better management of scleroderma Improved survival

Today scientists are looking at four broad areas of research: causes treatments education and prevention. Much of the research discussed here involves early findings. Some of these results need to be repeated in for 1 last update 2020/05/28 other studies before they are accepted by most scientists.Today scientists are looking at four broad areas of research: causes treatments education and prevention. Much of the research discussed here involves early findings. Some of these results need to be repeated in other studies before they are accepted by most scientists.

Causes

The causes of most forms of arthritis are unknown. Therefore doctors try to treat symptoms rather than attacking the roots of the problem. This is why so much research focuses on how the healthy body works and what goes wrong in arthritis. By understanding what causes arthritis researchers hope to design better methods for diagnosing treating and even preventing some arthritis-related diseases.

Research into the causes of arthritis became fast-paced in the 1980s because of the development of new techniques in molecular biology. Molecular biology is the science that studies how molecules in our cells (the smallest parts of our body) work. Research in this area has greatly advanced our understanding of how our body''s shock absorber by changing shape as the joint moves. When you put weight on your knee the cartilage flattens. When you relax the cartilage expands.

Researchers have discovered that early in osteoarthritis chemical changes result in the loss of two types of fibers proteoglycans and collagen which help give cartilage its resiliency. At the same time enzymes called proteases--which normally destroy old cartilage so it can be replaced by new growth--begin destroying cartilage much faster than it can be replaced. This process seems to happen faster in some people and studies are under way to find out why.

Another key question is how the immune system protects the body from the destruction of inflammatory types of arthritis. In the immune system there are specialized cells and a special family of proteins called antibodies as well as other chemical substances that help control and modify how the system responds. Among these chemical substances are interleukins and gamma interferon which are made by the immune cells. These substances appear to be involved with certain types of arthritis.

Inflammation which involves swelling redness and heat is one of the immune system''s response. It seems that in some forms of arthritis infections combine with a faulty gene to set off one or more malfunctions in the immune system. This causes the immune system to make errors. Instead of protecting healthy parts of the joints and other sites in the body the system turns against itself. This condition is called autoimmunity.

Autoimmunity results from the actions of substances called T cells or autoantibodies. T cells are specialized white blood cells which help distinguish between the body''s defenses heredity infections and environment or lifestyle interact to cause certain types of arthritis.

Treatments

Many tests have been developed to aid doctors in diagnosing various types of arthritis. In addition research has helped doctors look for patterns of symptoms associated with certain types of arthritis. For instance in fibrositis doctors look for chronic muscle aches in more than three sites sleep disturbances acutely painful tender points in certain parts of the body and the lack of any underlying illness. Researchers are now looking at new findings on decreased blood flow decreased endurance and cold sensitivity.

New drugs have been developed to slow down the immune system''s inflammatory response. In some studies there has been a modest lessening of subjective symptoms. Several researchers have observed that fasting low calorie/low protein diets and the fatty acids in fish oils slightly reduce some symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Scientists do not yet understand why this happens or if certain changes in diet such as short-term fasts help.

Artificial joints have helped many people with arthritis in their hips knees or even fingers regain lost movement. They have been especially helpful in reducing pain and correcting deformity in people with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

Research into treatments is also looking at:

Self-management

Arthritis Curehow to Arthritis Cure for Researchers are also looking at what people with arthritis can do to help themselves. They have shown that some aerobic exercises which are good for the heart are also safe for the joints. People with arthritis who did these exercises regularly reported less pain and fatigue.

Researchers are also studying ways to increase people''s office. Often this rapid transfer of research information includes very early results that need further study before your doctor can apply them. As a consumer you now need to know how to critically evaluate research reported in the media.

Suppose you read in a newspaper about a study reported in a medical journal that an industrial chemical helped improve skin pliability in 19 people with scleroderma an arthritis-related disease that causes hardening and thickening of the skin. Sound promising?

Arthritis Curehow to Arthritis Cure for The treatment described in this article was an early study on dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). DMSO is an industrial solvent often used as a degreaser. Early studies without control groups showed some promise. But the Food and Drug Administration refused to approve DMSO until enough evidence on the safety and effectiveness of the drug had the 1 last update 2020/05/28 been gathered. Yet media reports and enthusiastic supporters led 10 state legislatures to legalize DMSO.The treatment described in this article was an early study on dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). DMSO is an industrial solvent often used as a degreaser. Early studies without control groups showed some promise. But the Food and Drug Administration refused to approve DMSO until enough evidence on the safety and effectiveness of the drug had been gathered. Yet media reports and enthusiastic supporters led 10 state legislatures to legalize DMSO.

Eventually a large randomized controlled study in 13 clinics across the country failed to confirm that DMSO was effective in treating skin problems in scleroderma. Over one-quarter of the people treated with DMSO in the study had to discontinue the treatment because of skin blistering and peeling.

Because research results get reported in the media even before they are published in medical journals consumers need to know how to critically evaluate claims. How can you tell if reports such as the example on DMSO are really promising?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there a scientific reason to think the results are likely?
  • Are the results reported for large groups of people a small number of people animals or laboratory studies?
  • Were the people in the study like you? (Same age same sex same race same type of arthritis?)
  • Was there a control group--a group that did not receive the new treatment?
  • Have the results been repeated by other researchers with similar findings?
  • Has the research been published in a medical journal?
  • Does the report use any qualifying words to describe the findings (such as some may preliminary or experimental)?
  • Does the report list any questions that still must be answered before the results can be applied?
  • Does the report suggest health actions that people with a specific type of arthritis should take as a result of the research?

When you read or hear about a research study in the media it is important to know if what is being reported is (1) an early finding (2) an unproven remedy or (3) a confirmed result that you can use to take health actions. You can use this list to look for some of the same clues in news the 1 last update 2020/05/28 reports that researchers use when they review a study in a medical journal.When you read or hear about a research study in the media it is important to know if what is being reported is (1) an early finding (2) an unproven remedy or (3) a confirmed result that you can use to take health actions. You can use this list to look for some of the same clues in news reports that researchers use when they review a study in a medical journal.

Arthritis Curehow to Arthritis Cure for Evaluating new research

Arthritis Curehow to Arthritis Cure for Researchers start with a hypothesis a prediction based on research findings up to that date about why something happens or fails to happen in the body or the outside environment. They look for a biological reason or explanation based on what we already know about how the body works.

For instance some people apply industrial lubricating oil to the joints in the mistaken notion that if oil makes a machine move smoothly it will also make a joint move easily. This notion does not make biological sense because a special fluid in the joint called synovial fluid lubricates the joint not oil. When you are reading a report about a new treatment look to see why or how scientists think the treatment works.

Check the size of the experimental groups

Scientists will often first test a new treatment in the laboratory in test tubes. Then they may test it in a small number of specially bred laboratory animals before trying it in a small number of people. If the results are encouraging they will repeat the test in a large number of people. Reports of results in test tubes or animals may seem encouraging but researchers may not be able to get the same results in people.

Reports of results in a small number of people can seem promising only to prove faulty when tried in large numbers. For instance in the 1980s several arthritis drugs had to be pulled off pharmacy shelves because rare but serious side effects showed up only after they were used by millions of people. When you hear about new research results find out if the study was done in test tubes animals or a small or large number of people.

Look at the for 1 last update 2020/05/28 similarity of the groupsLook at the similarity of the groups

Arthritis Curehow to Arthritis Cure for Researchers test new treatments on groups of people who are similar in age sex race and specific type of arthritis. The reason is that if one of these factors is not the same in all groups it could cause different results.

Arthritis Curehow to Arthritis Cure for For instance a treatment that works well in adults may not be safe for children with certain types of arthritis because they are still growing. If you are reading about research findings see if the group in the study was similar in age sex and type of arthritis to you or someone you know with arthritis.

Check whether a control group was used

Studies usually compare a new treatment with one whose effects are already known. The group that receives the new treatment is called the experimental group. The group that receives the known treatment (or sometimes no treatment) is called the control group. Neither the investigators nor the people participating in the study know who is getting the new treatment until after the study is completed. This is called a double-blind study.

Control groups and blind studies help show the results are due to the new treatment and not to some other factor. Since symptoms of arthritis can come and go it is important to know that it was a treatment and not the disease itself that caused a change. Look for control groups in the research reports you read.

Was the study repeated?

A single study rarely gives a final result. Scientists repeat studies to be sure that the results are not due to chance or some factor other than the new treatment. That is why articles in medical journals include a review of other studies on the topic and a comparison of results.

For instance 32 researchers in the United States and England working on four different studies tested low doses of the anti-cancer drug methotrexate in people with advanced rheumatoid arthritis. All the studies showed similar benefits as well as the risk of side effects. When you''s joints to become inflamed deformed and sometimes damaged. Scientists are trying to understand what goes wrong with the body''s immune system that can affect many parts of the body including joints. Scientists are finding different genetic patterns and autoantibodies for lupus and its complications.

High levels of interferon have been found in people with lupus. Scientists are looking at interferon to see whether this substance which the body produces naturally contributes to lupus.

People with lupus make many autoantibodies against normal parts of the body. One autoantibody anti-native DNA occurs in about 80 percent of those with untreated lupus.

Credits

Some of this material may also be available in an Arthritis Foundation brochure. Contact the Washington/Alaska Chapter Helpline: (800) 542-0295. If dialing from outside of WA and AK contact the National Helpline: (800) 283-7800.

Adapted from the pamphlets originally prepared for the Arthritis Foundation by Irving Fox, MD, Frederic McDuffie, MD and Robert Rich, MD. This material is protected by copyright.

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